Local Autumn Photography: Ampthill & Aspley Woods

November 18, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

In Part 1 of this autumn photography series I was up in the Lake District, struggling with wide-angle lenses, but getting some nice photos with longer focal lengths. Part 2 takes the lessons learnt from Part 1, and features photos from closer to home, using only medium-to-telephoto focal lengths.


Staying Local: Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Last weekend I swapped the 5 hour journey to The Lake District for a 5 minute drive to neighbouring Ampthill, to photograph the silver birch there. Which I might add, had more leaves left than those in The Lakes did a fortnight previously.


Autumn BirchAutumn BirchBirch trees, surrounded by ferns, on a autumn morning.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


I've visited Ampthill Park and Coopers Hill a few times previously, and never really got much I'd been happy with, but this morning I found new areas, and also interesting colour in places which had looked uninspiring in the past.

Autumn Fern WoodsAutumn Fern WoodsFerns and birch trees, on a sunny autumn morning.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


Here I used a slow shutter speed, to play with the movement of the branches in the wind.
Birches in the BreezeBirches in the BreezeBirch trees swaying in the autumn breeze.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.
Birch tree, in blustery autumn conditionsBirch BlurBirch tree, in blustery autumn conditions.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


One alternative method to picking up the wide-angle lens, is to shoot panoramas; This image is formed of three photos 'stitched' together to create a nice wide-aspect. I like wide-aspect photos anyway, particularly of the woods, and this is often more effective than the distortion created by a wide-angle lens.

Autumn Birch Wood PanoramaAutumn Birch Wood PanoramaA three-shot panorama of a local woodland.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


Yes, another wall of trees. This is a recurring theme in my landscape photography. I just love the effect, so I was thrilled to find a woodland edge presenting itself like this.

Birch Wood: Gold and SilverBirch Wood: Gold and SilverA wall of gold and silver, as the last remaining leaves shine in the sun amongst the birch trees.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


Autumn can be a great combination of interesting colour, and interesting light. On overcast days like today, you can experience one of my favourite phenomena - when the sky is no brighter than the ground. That's always a great time to shoot - or just look out the window and enjoy the view. I had to look up to use this morning's dark sky, and the composition leaves a little to be desired. But the overall effect is very pleasing, I think.

Green and GoldGreen and GoldAutumn silver birch, against a dark November sky.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


Last one from Ampthill, and it's this view down a walkway which I've wanted to photograph for a few years, and it's really laziness which has meant it's taken this long. I always like woodland paths. I've seen this pathway so many times, but never looking as nice as it did this chilly autumnal morning.

Ampthill Woodland WalkAmpthill Woodland WalkA walk in the woods, in Ampthill.
Fine art nature, Ampthill, Bedfordshire.



Local Woodland: Aspley Woods

We had a foggy start this morning, so I nipped over to another local favourite; Aspley Woods. I've shared a few photos from Aspley Woods before, as it's one of my go-to locations, and it never looks better than on a misty morning. This portrait is from a small crop of silver birch trees on the outskirts of the main woodland.

Birch Tree PortraitBirch Tree PortraitBirch trees, in Aspley Woods, Bedfordshire.


The next two photos are my favourites from this autumn set, and they might be my favourite landscape photos for a while. At times this year I've questioned the point of persevering with landscape photography, as I often feel I just don't have the knack for it. But I love being out in places like this - especially woodland, and I love woodland photos. So I might as well go out and spend time where I want to be, and if I get some nice photos there, then so much the better.

Autumn WallpaperAutumn WallpaperA curtain of autumn colour from my local Bedfordshire woodland.
Fine Art Landscape Photography, Aspley Woods, Bedfordshire.


I like the combination of amber, yellow, and green here. It's gone straight into my Landscapes gallery, so it's available to order in print as of today.

A Splash of ColourA Splash of ColourAutumn colour, on a misty morning at my local woods.
Fine art landscape photography, Aspley Woods, Bedfordshire.


This one's more of a closer study, of the same area. I nearly didn't walk up to this little patch, but I remembered seeing a patch of colour there a few years ago, and it didn't let me down today either.

Autumn forestAutumn forestAspley Woods, Bedfordshire.


Last one from this morning. and it's really all about this one silver birch tree, which is clinging on to its last few leaves - just enough to add some sparkle to this scene.

Autumn HighlightsAutumn HighlightsYellow highlights, from the last leaves io this silver birch. Aspley Woods, Bedfordshire.



Bonus Trees!

As a cheeky bonus, I thought I'd share just handful of autumn photos from last year too, since they didn't get an outing at the time. Again, these are taken with the Nikon 70-200mm lens, under an hour from home.

Autumn BirchesAutumn BirchesAutumn birch woodland. Cambridgeshire, UK.

Autumn CurtainAutumn CurtainA curtain of leaves, hanging delicately from the branches of these birch trees.
Autumn birch woodland. Cambridgeshire, UK.

Autumn birch woodland. Cambridgeshire, UK.A Sprinkle of AutumnBirch trees and golden autumn leaves.
Autumn birch woodland. Cambridgeshire, UK.


This last one has made it onto my Landscapes gallery. I wouldn't imagine it would be the one most people would pick from this post, but I love it. It's visually busy, but compositionally simple, letting the trees do the work, naturally creating a canvas of dense birch forest.

Barcode BirchBarcode BirchA tapestry of silver birch tree trunks, obscuring golden autumn leaves of the woodland.
I like using this kind of tight composition and crop to create a slightly confusing image, which relies more on shape and texture, than content and context.



Where to go next time?

The debate about 'destination' vs local photography is a well-trodden one amongst photographers, so I'm not going to go over old ground. Suffice to say, that I love travelling and I enjoy landscape photography from all over the world, but next time I visit the Lakes, it will be to capture the mountains and the lakes, not for tree portraits, which are equally achievable in my local area. Comparing to it similar national parks, I prefer the mountains in Snowdonia, and I prefer the woodland in the Peak District. So the only thing I find the Lake District truly best for is, well, Lakes. OK, and gingerbread. I enjoy spending time in the Lake District, and dedicating time to autumn photography, I don't think it's worth the trip from this far south.

And where to go next year? I think it'll come down to where I'd like to visit, more than what photos I'd like to get. There are photos to be found everywhere during autumn, from 5 minutes down the road, to the whole of the northern hemisphere. So it's really about finding somewhere that takes my interest. Time will tell on that one. In the meantime, I'm pleased with the photos I've taken here.


Post by George Wheelhouse, 2018.



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